New syllabus ‘connects more people to musical story’
Composers on ABRSM’s new woodwind syllabus have spoken publicly about the opportunity to inspire a new generation of music learners and audiences by showing how they are ‘part of this musical story’.
Composer Althea Talbot-Howard, who contributed both arrangements and new compositions to the syllabus, makes the comments on the Classical Music website this month.
She said: “Music is a universal human endeavour, but it takes many forms. As the repertoire of classical music widens, it starts to reflect the universality of music as an artistic imperative in all cultures.”
Up to eight per cent of pieces for each instrument on the new woodwind syllabus have been written or arranged by composers from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Althea, whose syllabus contribution includes arrangements of Sonata for Harp and Flute by Joseph Bologne, said there were other, practical benefits of diversifying syllabuses, with inclusion of music by composers of African heritage like a ‘bridge’ for connecting with the new audiences that classical music today needs.
She said: “Because many of the children and parents involved in music exams have a range of cultural influences in their lives, it is good psychology for classical music to meet them halfway, just as they are already meeting us halfway by involving themselves in what was once an exclusively-European endeavour.
“It’s also good manners. If an African family starts taking music lessons – as happened so often for me over the last twenty years, in my private teaching practice – it is wonderful to be able to say, ‘This composer was of African descent’. It excites and inspires people, who, via the people who went before them, suddenly find themselves to be a part of this musical story.”
The Classical Music article also features Andrew Chen, one of six composers on a mentoring scheme developed and designed by ABRSM to introduce young composers from a wider range of backgrounds to ABRSM’s specific technical requirements when it is commissioning music for education.
Read the full article here.